FAA Eases Restrictions on Drone Operations Over Some Federal Facilities
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it is working with other federal agencies to minimize the impact of flight restrictions on drone operators flying near select federal facilities.
The FAA is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to establish intermittent restrictions on drone flights within the lateral boundaries of select federal facilities during specified times. Currently, drone operators are prohibited from flying at these locations at all times. The FAA is working to ensure that these restrictions are narrowly tailored and remain in effect only when necessary.
Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) will be issued in advance, indicating the sites where these intermittent restrictions will apply. Drone operators will be able to easily identify the status of the airspace at these locations using the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System UAS Data Display System’s (UDDS) interactive map which will show the following:
- The airspace shapes will appear gray when the §99.7 (special security instructions) airspace is inactive and no restrictions are placed on drone operators.
- Approximately 24 hours before restrictions are activated, the designated airspace will change to yellow as a warning that restrictions will soon become active.
- At the end of the 24-hour warning window, the designated airspace will change to red while the drone restrictions are in effect.
- The specific activation times can also be viewed by clicking on the individual airspace shapes in UDDS. Operators are urged to check the UDDS website frequently before and during UAS flights, especially when operating near or within the defined airspace to which recurring transient special security instructions are applied.
These changes, which have been highlighted by FAA NOTAM FDC 9/7752, will become effective on Sept.1, 2019. This NOTAM replaces FAA NOTAM FDC 8/3277. Note that there are few exceptions that permit UAS operations within these restrictions, and those must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA.
Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties, criminal charges, or the loss of their UAS from counter-UAS activities.
The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agency’s existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) §99.7 as they are received. Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.
Information on the NOTAM, which defines these restrictions, and all of the currently covered locations, is available. To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, the UDDS also provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important details. A link to these restrictions is included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.
Broader information regarding flying drones in the National Airspace System, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAA's UAS website.